Throughout criminal courthouses in Michigan, roadside sobriety tests results are being challenged by defense attorneys. DUI defense attorneys have recently argued that the admissibility of such tests are unlawful. This is in large part due to a recent change in law which took effect January 15, 2015. Read on to learn more.
Overview of Public Act 315 of 2014
In October 2014, Michigan lawmakers enacted a new law aimed at reducing drugged driving. The new law permits police officers to conduct “preliminary roadside analysis” for the detection of controlled and intoxicating substances. The phrase used in previous versions of the law was “preliminary breath analysis.” Traditionally, the preliminary breath test (preliminary breath analysis) results have been inadmissible at trial (with very limited exceptions). The new provision weakened the new law because it included field sobriety tests in the definition of “preliminary roadside analysis” thus jeopardizing the admissibility of field sobriety tests in criminal prosecutions.
Typically, the roadside breath test is used to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). If the test indicates that the driver’s BAC is above the legal limit, the officer may take the driver into custody for further testing at the police station (probable cause). Field sobriety tests typically consist of having a driver walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, standing on one leg, examining eye coordination in addition to taking a preliminary breathalyzer test.
“[The new law] created an ambiguity in the statute where defendants are claiming, and an ever increasing number of judges across the state are accepting, that this renders all evidence of field sobriety tests inadmissible at trial,” Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt.
As a result of the mistake, at least one district court judge ruled that field sobriety tests were not admissible at trial. However, the prosecutor still succeeded in obtaining a conviction. The Michigan appellate courts did not rule on the issue. However, the loophole in the law was fixed on April 9, 2015 with a more specific definition of preliminary chemical breath analysis in MCL 257.43a.
Hire Ann Arbor DUI Attorney
If you or a loved one has recently been charged with drunk driving in the Ann Arbor area, contact me for a consultation. Depending on the nature of your arrest, the evidence presented against you, I may be able to have your charge reduced or completely dismissed.